Arguably the biggest upset in the men’s draw at the 2014 Australian Open was world No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro’s second round exit to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut. The ‘Tower of Tandil” lost the contest in a gruelling five-set battle, marking the fourth time in eight appearances that the Argentine exits the Australian Open in the second round.
While most would have cited fatigue, lack of preparation or the extreme weather conditions as the reasons behind their loss, Del Potro’s only reason was that he believed that Agut played a “brilliant” match and deserved the win. Giving credit where credit was due, Del Potro stated that Roberto played the crucial points perfectly and served well while at break point down.
“I think he played a great match during the four hours,” said del Potro. “It’s tough when you play a very high level during four hours. Tough to beat the opponent. I was close.”
Ranked at No. 5 in the world and with his straight sets victory over top seed Rafael Nadal at the Shanghai Masters last year, many considered Del Potro to be one of the tournament favourites. While Del Potro believes this is a reoccurring matter for favourites in Grand Slams, he admits that the season is still just beginning and that he will not let the loss impact his performance in the coming weeks.
“I think sometimes the favourites lose very early in a Grand Slam, like Federer in Wimbledon or Rafa, and then other ones in the US Open,” he continued. “Here is my chance to get out very early in the tournament. But the season just started. I will try to be positive for the rest of the year.”
The Argentine has already managed to secure one title this year so far: the Apia Sydney International, where he defeated Bernard Tomic to lift the trophy. He will be looking to work hard this season to add to that list.
“I need to keep working,” he said. “I already won the tournament last week, and that gives me confidence to improve my game. But this kind of match also helps me to learn something, and I will try to take my positive things about this match and change the negative to improve my game.”